Eric Steele, a legendary badass protagonist who’s making a heavy impact on the genre, excels in Sean Parnell’s fiction debut. A former Green Beret turned shadowy operator for the fictional Alpha Program, Eric has the skills, brutality, wits, tech, and finesse bringing the feel of a cinematic American contemporary James Bond. Man of War combines tactical detail, heavy action sequences, spycraft, technology, conspiracy, and chaos into a fun, unflinching, addictive thrill ride.
The Alpha Program, comparable to the 00(double O) program, is an old black ops unit controlled only by POTUS, hidden even from the members of the intelligence community. They have high tech gadgets that would make Q jealous, and safe houses filled with weapons and supplies in every region, a limitless budget, and a license to do almost anything. So, it’s more of an epic superhero book, and you should look for something else if you want some boring slow realism. And yet, both the male and female protagonists are in a way fleshed out like real humans with their motivations, conflicts, past, and their interesting personalities.
The keen attention to detail in this book and the visual narrative makes it more of a cinematic experience than a book. Man of War is the type of story that competes with epic Bayhem type action-packed blockbusters, than with other books. That point is mentioned in a meta scene where Eric Steele has HALO jumped into an Algerian warzone(during a civil war or an Arab springs type event) playing Black Sabbath’s War Pigs on his helmet’s loudspeakers while landing in the middle of heavy gunfire and explosions while comparing his predicament to a Micheal Bay movie in his thoughts. This might be the most awesome moment I’ve read in a book in a long time. Plus, that scene introduced me to Black Sabbath whose epic music I now respect and am accidentally addicted to.
The plot revolves around a stolen nuke, political maneuverings, proxy groups, mercs, and Eric Steele going up against his former mentor who’s officially dead. Nathanial West, the vengeful former Alpha Program operator, working on an attack against his own country, poses a formidable threat to Eric complicating things in this gritty thrill-fest. West who’s become a sociopathic, violent merc, after a personal tragedy caused by his own country’s forces, is a compelling and challenging adversary for Eric, clashing a few times before the epic, long, gory, and highly weaponized finale.
From an action-packed assassination in a nightclub to a bike chase through an Algerian active warzone, a high tech & deceptive ambush on a convoy of armed mercs that turns into an explosive spectacle to an all-out tactical battle at an estate’s grounds near Washington DC, this book is one roller coaster ride after another.
On the political side of this story, I can guarantee that it will trigger extreme liberals into a burst of anger, but please extreme conservatives very well. Apart from that warning, if you read this book from a politically neutral perspective as I did, then it’s a fun entertaining experience as I enjoyed the tactical detail, spycraft, and action side of the story, and even enjoyed the political side as an entertaining satire. Plus, the main characters on the ground level of the story are the kind of epic awesome personalities who’d be fun on the big screen.
Demo, a former Alpha operator who’s now Eric’s handler, brings in the bromance, comedy, along with the wisdom to aid the protagonist whenever needed. The puns involving Steven Segal’s recent movies and many other contemporary topics were interesting to see in this genre. Meg, the female protagonist, is a strong character with her past in the ISA(Intelligence Support Activity) a SIGINT-based unit from JSOC, and then a CIA operative whose team gets ambushed and wiped out by West. She’s thrust into the conspiracy and the action colliding with Eric and his operation. The comedy and chemistry between Meg and Eric created a fun relationship between the two operators.
This is not a book for those who want a slow thriller, but it’s a must-read for anyone who wants a fun, tactically awesome thrill fest that will give a better experience than most action-packed movies. I hope Sean Parnell continues writing these high-quality Eric Steele books as long as he can, considering the deteriorating form of Bond movies and very state of action-thrillers in today’s hyper-sensitive movie industry.